Today, Common Cause and over 200 organizations called on Senators to commit to reconsideration of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act immediately and to delay the coming Congressional recess until the legislation is passed. The letter, from members of the Declaration for American Democracy (DFAD) coalition and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights emphasizes that already this year, 19 states have enacted 33 restrictive voting laws that make it harder for Americans – particularly in Black and Brown communities – to have a say in choosing their elected leaders. It further points to the brazenly gerrymandered district maps being enacted around the country by politicians choosing their voters instead of the other way around for partisan advantage. Those maps are leaving Americans with legislatures and congressional delegations that do not even vaguely reflect the ballots cast by voters.
“Americans expect and deserve elected representatives who reflect the will of the people, but the anti-voter laws and outrageous gerrymanders being passed around the country are designed to silence the voices of millions of citizens often because of their race, their background, or their zip code,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “This coordinated and concerted effort to deny Americans a voice in our democracy must be stopped by federal legislation and it must be stopped before it’s too late. In 1965, it took the passage of the Voting Rights Act to greatly curtail the systematic suppression of Black voters in the Jim Crow South. We have reached a similar juncture today, and we must pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to end the grave injustices of this era.”
The Freedom to Vote Act combines policy proposals and best practices from both Democrats and Republicans across the country and would enact commonsense and proven practices to protect the freedom to vote, end dark money, stop partisan gerrymandering, and protect our elections from partisan sabotage. The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act will restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act to ensure that voters are protected from future attacks on their freedom to vote.
The groups signing the letter call on Senators to make the legislation a top priority on the remaining agenda for the year and stress the importance of the Senate staying in session beyond the scheduled December 13th recess and to do whatever it takes to pass these bills. The broad range of organizations make clear to their Senators in Washington that “without first safeguarding our democracy to ensure that all Americans’ voices are heard, we will not be able to make progress on the issues that all of our organizations fight for every day.” The letter emphasizes that the country is facing an existential crisis that has little precedent in our nation’s history and underscores that inaction is not an option.
To read the full letter, including a full list of the organization signing on, click here.